An investigation has revealed that the European Parliament is a “hotbed of sexual harassment”, where senior MEPs who “feel they can do whatever they want” prey on young women.
The Sunday Times reports speaking to over a dozen junior staffers — professional, multilingual women, some graduates of the College of Europe which trains people to work for the EU’s standing bureaucracy — who suffered the unwanted attentions of older, often married European politicians.
Some of the allegations levelled are very serious, with at least one MEP accused of masturbating in front of a young aide.
One woman described how a prominent MEP — almost 60, with a wife and two children — cornered her in a lift, where he began touching her and whispering lewd remarks.
“He was stroking my hair, then my neck, going down my back … I just froze, I was petrified,” she said.
“I told my colleague, who said I should report him, but in the end I didn’t … I was afraid of losing my job, of facing the embarrassment and ruining my career.”
This was a common theme among the alleged victims, who all asked to remain anonymous, and for their alleged abusers to remain nameless too — fearing retaliation.
“To every survivor of sexual assault…You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed.” https://t.co/QW0r4k7A6h
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 19, 2017
One politician the newspaper did name was Yves Cochet, the 71-year-old former French environment minister and Green Party MEP.
Journalists said they saw text messages the septuagenarian lothario had sent to the 25-year-old assistant of another MEP, saying he wanted to discuss her “passions, dreams and fantasies” and admonishing her for declining an invitation to dinner.
“I know it’s a cliché, an old man asking out a pretty young woman. But are you afraid of what people will say? Or afraid of me? … do you maybe tremble with a delicious yet disconcerting expectation?”
Here is the message Yves Cochet, a 71-year-old senior politician, sent to a 24-year-old female assistant; in original & translation pic.twitter.com/xIzfC0gVup
— Bojan Pancevski (@bopanc) October 22, 2017
Another 24-year-old assistant — a qualified lawyer — described how a leading MEP from Germany “stalked” her in meetings and, finally, made “unpleasant advances” on her.
“He stretched out his hand to block my way as I was leaving the conference room, touching my chest, and started talking to me, giving me compliments on my appearance,” she said.
“It’s a question of power: my first reaction was to think whether I was wearing something provocative for him to behave like that. MEPs feel powerful because they can fire assistants whenever they like, and they are almost entirely outside the media spotlight … they feel they can do whatever they want.”
Anti-Brexit, Pro-Social Justice GQ Writer Rupert Myers Sacked After Sexual Assault Allegations
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 19, 2017
This is not the first time the European Union’s leading men have been accused of behaving inappropriately.
In March 2017, Polish MP Krystyna Pawłowicz charged Jean-Claude Juncker — a former MEP who currently occupies the post of President of the European Commission — with “particularly distasteful” behaviour towards women “who were certainly too polite to ask you to take a rest” at an audience with Pope Francis.
The law lecturer also accused the eurocrat of “obvious alcohol dependency”, and said his actions brought the EU into disrepute.